The head of the governing body that oversees Harris County, Texas, urged leaders not to malign immigrants over the murder of a 12-year-old girl found strangled to death last week.  

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Tuesday said “evil happens regardless of immigration status” while urging officials not to politicize the death of Jocelyn Nungaray. Two illegal immigrants from Venezuela are charged in her killing. 

“It had nothing to do with why they committed this crime,” she said Tuesday at the start of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting.

Hidalgo also blamed former President Trump and Republicans in Congress for creating the conditions that led to Nungaray’s death. 


Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo seemed to politicize the death of Jocelyn Nungaray and the illegal immigrants suspected in her strangulation death. (Fox News)

“The fact that two immigrants committed this terrible crime does not mean that they committed the crime because they are immigrants,” she said. “It’s very easy to malign entire communities when tragedy happens, and that’s always an easy political strategy.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to Hidalgo’s office. 

Nungaray’s alleged killers — Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 21, and Franklin Jose Peña Ramos, 26 — met each other when they were both on their way to the U.S. from Venezuela and then later connected in Houston, prosecutors said. 

On June 16, they lured Nungaray under a bridge and sexually assaulted her before she was strangled to death and left in a creek, authorities said. Nungaray’s hands and feet were bound, she was nude from the waist down, and she had marks on her neck and scrapes on her backside consistent with being dragged, prosecutors said.


Jocelyn Nungaray pictured with Biden and Trump

President Biden, Jocelyn Nungaray and former President Trump  (Getty Images)

Martinez allegedly told authorities he tied Jocelyn’s legs and instructed Ramos to throw her in the bayou. Martinez had bite marks and scratches on his arm and shaved his beard to avoid detection, authorities allege.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Hidalgo said congressional Democrats and Republicans initially agreed on an immigration package that would have kept Martinez and Ramos in Mexico and would have sent back anyone who didn’t cross into the U.S. at a legal entry point. 

“When the former president decided that he didn’t want Biden to have a win on immigration, he told his party to pull out of that agreement. So, blaming things on the current immigration policy is absolutely political, and it really breaks my heart that people would politicize the sadness of that tragedy,” she said. 

Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey told FOX Houston the county has become a haven for illegal immigrant criminals and a sanctuary county. 


Jocelyn Nungaray murder suspects

Franklin Jose Peña Ramos, left, and Johan Jose Martinez-Rangel were charged in the killing of Jocelyn Nungaray in Houston.  (Harris County Jail)

“Based on those policies, based upon our unwillingness to engage, I believe it is. I think people know that they cross that border with ill intent … and are coming here to do bad things,” Ramsey said. “They know that they can come to Houston, Texas, the third-largest county in America, and they can do really bad things and not get caught, and nothing will happen. 

“If they went a few counties north of us, there would be something happen to them, but they don’t,” added Ramsey. “They stay, and I think your term is correct. It’s a ‘sanctuary county,’ and we’ve got to turn that around.”

Hidalgo suggested congressional lawmakers should make it a crime for employers to hire illegal immigrants if they are so concerned about the flow of undocumented migrants

images of Jocelyn Nungaray

Jocelyn Nungaray, 12, was found strangled to death in a Houston creek. (Fox Houston courtesy of the Nungaray family)


“I’ll give the party of Trump that idea right now. Of course, they don’t actually want to make illegal immigration illegal because they know that the economy spins because of immigrants, and this country would not work without immigrants. And, so, evil happens regardless of immigration status,” Hidalgo said. “It had nothing to do with why they committed this crime.”

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